Google has revealed new information about a ranking system called ‘Topic Authority.’
This system aims to deliver more relevant, expert, and knowledgeable content in Google Search and News for queries on specialized topics.
Why Topic Authority?
The inception of Topic Authority is an attempt to address a common challenge Google users face when seeking authoritative coverage on specific topics.
For instance, users looking for expert commentary on an economic report or local news on a disaster in their area often find a mix of general coverage, potentially obscuring more scholarly work by publications with specific expertise in these areas.
The Topic Authority system allows Google to serve more local news results. It helps Google prioritize content from local and regional publications, providing readers with more appropriate coverage.
For example, in a flood in a user’s area, the Topic Authority signal will prioritize content from local publications regularly covering topics in that region.
Further, an emphasis on Topic Authority means that original reporting from news teams familiar with the location and topic is more likely to surface.
Google says local publishers receive increased visibility for news events covered in their area.
Publishers with specific expertise can expect the same when their content is relevant to a news story about a specialized field.
Despite not having its own listing in Google’s official guide to ranking systems, the company’s Search Liaison says Topic Authority has been used for several years.
Unpacking How Topic Authority Works
The Topic Authority system utilizes a range of signals to gauge a publication’s level of expertise in specific fields. The primary signals include:
- Notability for a topic or location: Google’s systems can understand if a publication is relevant to specific topics or areas.
- Influence and original reporting: Google’s system considers how other publishers cite a website’s original reporting.
- Source reputation: Google evaluates a source’s history of high-quality reporting and recommendations from expert sources, such as professional societies.
Recommendations for Publishers
Google advises publishers aiming to succeed with Topic Authority to continue providing excellent coverage on the areas and topics they know well.
As Topic Authority influences search results, seeing the changes to the news discovery and distribution dynamic has been interesting.
With the emphasis on local and expert coverage, Topic Authority has led to a renewed focus on in-depth reporting and a resurgence of specialist journalism.
The Potential Impact on SEO Strategies
Topic Authority adds another layer to the strategic mix for SEO professionals.
It emphasizes the importance of a publication’s expertise, influence, and reputation and aligns with Google’s ongoing efforts to promote quality content.
It’s clear that the days of generic, one-size-fits-all content strategies are numbered, and those who invest in developing authoritative content in their areas of expertise will be well-positioned to reap the benefits of this new ranking system.
Featured image generated by the author using Midjourney.